Domestic violence is a very serious issue and one that is not taken lightly by the courts. Anyone in an abusive situation must find ways to protect himself or herself. Unfortunately, many spouses do not seek protection from an abusive partner because he or she is afraid of the backlash from their abuser. The necessary steps must be taken to ensure your safety. Kevin Hickey Law Partners can help you take these very difficult first steps to aid in your protection and we will be with you throughout the entire process.
The first step in gaining your freedom from an abusive spouse is to file for an order of protection, in which you will need to file a petition for an order of protection with the county courthouse of the county in which you live, where the abuse took place or the county where the abuser may be served. If you are in immediate danger, we will also file a temporary (ex-parte) order of protection. If you file an ex parte order of protection, the judge will want to speak to you right away. A judge is the only one that can review your petition and grant the ex parte order of protection. A judge will issue an ex parte order of protection if he or she finds that:
- You are in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse; or
- The abuser is scheduled to be released from prison within 30 days, and there will be an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse when he or she is released.
After the appropriate paperwork is filed whether or not you get an ex parte order of protection, you will be given a date for a court hearing. The hearing will be set within 30 days of the filing, assuming your case is not dismissed for some reason.
In order to receive a protective order, the abuser must be served with the papers telling him or her about the hearing date and the temporary order of protection (if you were given one). The abuser must be served at least five days before the scheduled date of hearing. The police will be given the notice and protective order to serve the abuser either by the clerk or our firm. The police will then serve the abuser. YOU SHOULD NEVER ATTEMPT TO SERVE THE PAPERS TO THE ABUSER YOURSELF. If for some reason, the abuser was unable to be served the five days before the court date, we will ask the judge for a new hearing date and another temporary order of protection.
It is very important that you go to the court hearing, as this will be in front of a judge who will decide whether to give you a final order of protection. If you do not attend the hearing, your temporary order will expire and you will have to start the process all over. Actually stepping into the courtroom can be very scary for some because your abuser will be there as well, but do not worry Kevin Hickey Law Partners will be by your side every step of the way. If for some reason you absolutely cannot attend the court hearing, we will contact the court immediately and ask the court for a continuance for a later court date. If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the judge may issue a default judgment against him or her or the judge may decide to pick a new hearing date to give the abuser another chance to come to court. If this happens, we will ask the judge to extend your temporary order if you were granted one. Once all parties have testified and presented evidence in each party’s case, the judge will determine whether to issue the protective order.
Most laws pertaining to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault come from state laws such as laws that deal with protection orders, divorce, custody, crimes and more. There are some federal laws that apply to all states, such as immigration remedies for undocumented immigrant victims, federal gun laws, and military protection orders that also affect victims of domestic violence.
If you decide to move to another state after receiving your protective order in Arkansas, federal law does not require you to take any special steps to have it enforced in another state. Some states have laws or regulations about registering or filing out-of-state protection orders making enforcement easier. Regardless if you register or now, a valid protection order is enforceable, whichever state you are in. Our firm will be happy to assist you in registering your order in another state.
Kevin Hickey Law Partners will help guide you throughout this process to make it as easy as possible on you while helping you take the necessary steps to protect your safety. Contact us today.